The depletion of forests has become an important topic in most countries today. Removing trees for lumber, heat and other purposes is necessary but replacing those trees is just as necessary. Reforestation is the process in which forests are renewed after they have been harvested. The renewal process is done either by natural regeneration, planting new trees or by a combination of both methods.
Afforestation VS Reforestation
There is a difference between afforestation and reforestation. Afforestation involves planting trees on land that was not traditionally forest land. Reforestation is the act of re-planting trees from a forest once those trees have been removed. Both are important processes and both can help to preserve the environment in a number of ways.
Reforestation after trees have been harvested is essential in sustaining forests. Establishing new stands of trees is a priority in forest management and quickly replacing those trees can help to prevent soil erosion and protect the quality of water in streams and lakes. Many wildlife species have been found using newly planted forests for nesting as well as food and shelter.
Methods of Reforestation
Methods of reforestation include clear-cutting, natural regeneration, planting, direct seeding, group selection and others. There is often no best method for reforestation. It depends on the specific forest being replanted and many have found that a combination of methods works well. Those looking to reforest their areas should seek the advice of a professional forester to help evaluate and plan effective reforestation to reap the most benefits. A method and management system for reforestation should be in place before harvests are conducted. Harvesting removes trees from the forest and is the beginning of reforestation.
- Group Selection Method – Group selection is a method in which trees are removed in small group openings. The small openings provide suitable sites for many species of fir as well as red cedar, hemlock, maple and spruce. These species are able to regenerate in partial shade. Larger openings can be used to provide more light to the forest floor which is the chosen method for species that need more sunlight such as loblolly pines, yellow birch, oaks and the Douglas fir. Groups in group selection are not managed as separate strands. The regeneration, growth and yield of reforestation in group selection are managed over the entire tract of the forest in question.
- Single Tree Method – In single tree selection, individual trees are removed uniformly throughout the tree stand. Small openings are provided to allow limited sunlight to the forest floor. This system allows for regeneration of the more shade tolerant tree species such as the sugar maple, beech and hemlock. Single tree selection is the method used on dry and frost prone forest sites in many areas of the United States in order to regenerate species such as the ponderosa pine.
Reforestation Employment Opportunities
Reforestation is an important process and allows for the re-establishment of forests for timber as well as healthy watersheds, aquatic life, topsoil preservation and air quality. There are a number of areas that provide seasonal employment for reforestation. Those looking to be part of this process can check locally to see if reforestation jobs are available. The work entails much more than simply digging a hole and planting a tree. Reforestation involves setting up and managing an outdoor work camp. Workers are needed to set up and maintain the forestation camp as well as roads and vehicles. Employees typically collect seed-bearing cones, plant saplings, build shading shelters for those saplings, thin young tree stands, work in nurseries, clean out streams and many other jobs.
The pay for reforestation jobs will depend on the type of work that is being performed. Most reforestation work is done by private contractors for the government. The Department of Labor does impose a minimum wage requirement but when working on private land these rates do not typically apply. Anyone looking to work in reforestation should check out the pay rates prior to accepting a job.
Reforestation Benefits & Advantages
There are a number of benefits to reforestation and sustaining forests is worthwhile for anyone concerned with environmental issues. As more and more people begin to be concerned about the environment, many look into ways that they can contribute on a local level. There are many programs that are available for citizens to be part of this global issue.
One of the main benefits of reforestation is better air quality. The accumulation of carbon based greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane can be dangerous. Trees thrive on carbon gases and breathe in carbon dioxide. They use these gases to produce sugar during photosynthesis as well as wood and cellulose. Planting trees and ensuring that forests are not completely depleted will ensure that there are not dangerous levels of carbon gases in the air. Reforestation is an effective method for reducing the amount of carbon gas in the atmosphere which directly affects the global climate change.
In addition to quality air and fighting global warming, reforestation helps wildlife. Forest trees serve as food, shade and shelter for many wildlife species. In the Amazonian rain forest, deforestation is threatening the existence of many animal and plant species. Reforestation preserves trees that serve as natural habitat space for a number of native insects as well as mammals, birds and other species. Replanting trees also ensures that animals have the forest corridor space to move about freely. This ensures that they are not trapped in areas that are dangerous for them. Wildlife species need trees for shelter, protection and food. Replanting those trees after they have been removed will preserve natural wildlife species.
Reforestation can also alleviate world hunger as well as various water availability issues. There are a number of people who are dependent on native trees for food. They get fruits, nuts and many forest animal species from these local trees which are their primary source of food. Deforestation threatens many villagers in various parts of the world by removing their food source. Reforestation will alleviate this problem and provide villagers with the native trees that they are accustomed to for renewable food sources. Trees can also help to sustain food sources by protecting lands from erosion. This preserves soil quality and ensures that farmers can plant and harvest their crops. In many arid regions of the world, planting trees can raise the water table which will provide water to those in drought areas.
There are many reasons why someone may want to support reforestation and there are a number of reforestation projects to support. Protecting the environment is something that everyone should be concerned with. The forests in the world are important resources and preserving them is a major step in the fight against global climate change as well as protecting against world hunger and water availability and preserving endangered species.